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“It Can’t Happen to Me”–Facing the Reality of Drownings in Phoenix

I have been practicing Pediatrics in Phoenix for 9 years and trained at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for 3 years prior to that.  Yet every year I am shocked and saddened by the number of needless drownings of children in the valley.  Summer is here and families enjoy vacation and time relaxing at home.  Many families in the valley have swimming pools and use them a great deal during this time of year.  Moreover, families on vacation very often get away to a location near the beach or with a swimming pool.  While swimming and playing in the pool are common and beloved ways of keeping cool this summer, it is important to remember our children’s safety in the pool.  We’ve all seen the posters and television public service announcements reminding us to “watch our kids around water.”  But no matter how many campaigns are launched each spring and summer season, Phoenix still experiences the painful reality of childhood drownings.  In fact, thusfar this year  Phoenix and the surrounding areas have had 50 water-related incidents and families have suffered 10 deaths, including 5 children (as documented by the Children’s Safety Zone).  Therefore, it is vital to be vigilant about watching our children in and around the pool.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently revised its statement regarding swim lessons for children ages 1 to 4.  Even if your child has had swim lessons, this should not create a false sense of security because accidents still happen in and around the water.  An adult should always be present while children are swimming or playing in and around a pool.  Because not all drownings and near-drownings occur during designated pool time, a barrier should separate your pool from the house.  Many children wander out of their homes and fall in the pool unbeknownst to the adults at home.  Therefore, a pool fence should securely and completely surround the pool.  It still astounds me how many houses in Phoenix do not have pool fences.  Everyone thinks that “it can’t happen to me or my child.”  Believe me when I tell you that I have had the unfortunate experience to speak with parents when a drowning has happened to them.  

Subir K. Mitra, MD, FAAP

For your convenience, the Phoenix Fire Department has issued an in-depth checklist for pool safety.

**Please note that although this blog and the aforementioned information is mainly about pool safety, it is important to watch our children around ALL water, whether they are in a bathtub or near a bucket of water.



Posted in Blog on June 15th, 2010